Middle Eastern Cooking

Roasted Celeriac with Lentils, Mint & Tahini

Celeriac may not be the prettiest root vegetable, but it has a delicious, sweet & nutty flavour that goes so well with fresh herbs. We've loved experimenting with this underrated root recently... it's equally delicious roasted or mashed & it's currently in season in the UK, so it's a really sustainable option too!

Roasted Celeriac with Lentils, Mint & Tahini

Seeing as Tahini is one of our favourite ingredients, it also seems fitting that the two foods go perfectly together. Made from ground sesame seeds, tahini is a really versatile, rich ingredient used in a lot of Middle Eastern recipes. We seem to get through a lot of tahini every week, but thankfully it's full of goodness & is completely delicious! It's also a great source of calcium, B vitamins, iron and potassium. If you can, try and buy tahini made with un-hulled sesame seeds, as they keep more of their nutritional content (we love the organic version by Meridian). 

Bay Leaves - Roasted Celeriac with Lentils, Mint & Tahini
Mint Leaves

There are a few steps to this recipe, but it's well worth the effort and time! This dish works great as a main served with salad and pickled vegetables, but it would also work well as a side dish or part of a mezze. We hope you enjoy it! 

Ingredients (Serves 4 as a main dish with a side)
1 Large celeriac (Approx 1kg)
A large bunch of fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp tahini
150g of green/put lentils, well rinsed
6 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp of dried thyme
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or fire cider
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt & pepper

Method
-First, add the lentils, thyme and bay leaves to a pan. Add plenty of water and boil gently until just cooked through (20-30 minutes depending on the lentils).  They should retain their shape. 
-While the lentils are cooking prepare the celeriac. Chop into 1 inch pieces and parboil in salted water for 6-8 minutes until just soft. Drain and add to a deep baking pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then roast in the oven for around 30-40 minutes until crisp and golden. 
-Once the lentils are cooked, drain them well and remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. In a bowl mix the lentils, while still hot, with 1tbsp of olive oil, the vinegar, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
-In a small bowl, mix the tahini with 2-3 tbsp of warm water until smooth and pourable. 
-Once the celeriac is cooked removed from the oven and mash some of the pieces in the pan for a good texture.
-Then divide the lentil mixture evenly over the celeriac. Generously scatter over the chopped mint and drizzle with half of the tahini dressing. 
-Serve the rest of the tahini individually at the table with even more chopped mint.

Roasted Celeriac with Lentils, Mint & Tahini

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Have you ever cooked with Celeriac? We'd love to hear your experiences!

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Mint, Parsley & Chives

Although we love spending hours getting creative in the kitchen, life doesn't always provide us with an abundance of spare time. So when life or work gets a little hectic, simple & straightforward meals save the day. But of course, they still have to taste great too!  

This tabbouleh is perfect if you don't have much time, but want to make something beautiful, delicious and healthy. I'm obsessed with how the colours dance together in the bowl - it would make a great dish for a dinner party or as a side dish for Christmas. We often make a big batch and make it last a few days for a quick and tasty lunch option too.  Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with bulgur, but we've swapped ours for quinoa for a nuttier taste. Feel free to swap around the grains, this would also work with buckwheat or spelt couscous!

Quinoa Tabbouleh
Quinoa Tabbouleh

Ingredients (Serves 4 as a main, or 6 as a side dish

1 and 1/2 cups of quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
A large handful each of - fresh mint, parsley and chives, chopped
1 pomegranate
1 cucumber, finely diced
1 lemon
A generous drizzle of good quality olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

1. First, cook the quinoa with a large pinch of salt, drain well and set aside to cool.
2. Once the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, mix in the fresh herbs, pomegranate seeds and diced cucumber. Drizzle in olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon and season with salt and pepper.
3. Serve ad enjoy! We love ours with roasted butternut squash and hummus.

Quinoa tabbouleh

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Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah

If you hadn't already realised by now, we love a good spice blend. But when a spice blend also contains nuts/seeds and can be eaten as a snack? That's when our taste buds really get excited. Welcome to Dukkah .... probably one of the tastiest mixes you can have in your kitchen cupboards. And it's really nutritious too...so it's an all round winner!

Originating from Egypt, this spice/nut mix has become really popular around the world as a delicious topping, seasoning and just a general kitchen superstar. The word 'dukka' (or duqqa) means 'to pound', and you quite literally just pound your ingredients together to form a dry, crunchy mixture. 

Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah
Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah

Traditionally, dukkah was served as a snack with fresh bread and olive oil. Simple but delicious! But it's an incredibly versatile mix - sprinkle it on top of vegetables to form a crispy coating, use it on top of soups, salads, stews, pasta or whatever meal needs some extra flavour. The possibilities are pretty endless.  I've even eaten it with a spoon as a pre-dinner snack! 

In many classic Dukkah recipes, they use hazelnuts & sesame seeds as the base of the mix. We've used almonds in our version as we always have them in the cupboard, but it would be equally delicious with brasil nuts, walnuts or hazelnuts. We've also used pumpkin seeds as they're our favourite and are an amazing source of zinc and plant protein. 

Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah

Ingredients (Makes 1 medium jar)
1/2 cup of Almonds
1/2 cup of Pumpkin Seeds
2 & 1/2 tablespoons of cumin seeds
2 & 1/2 tablespoons of coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon of black pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon of good quality salt

Method
We dry roast our seeds and nuts separately in a heavy bottom pan so they cook evenly.
1. First toast the almonds, then pumpkin seeds, stirring well until they are nicely browned. Set aside.
2. Then toast the coriander, cumin and black pepper until they are fragrant.
3. Let everything cool, then mix with the salt and grind up in either a pestle and mortar or with a spice/coffee grinder. Its nice to leave some of the seeds and nuts chunky so you get some good texture (see below).
4.Store in an air-tight jar. Keeps well for 2-3 months. 

Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah
Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah
Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah
Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah

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How to Make a Za'atar Spice Mix

I always find ancient rituals and practises so fascinating. Those special kind of recipes that have been handed down through the centuries... little traditions started by our ancestors so long ago.
Za'atar is one of those special traditions that traces far back in Middle Eastern cuisine. I'm sure that every country and family have their own unique version of this spice mix -  that's one of the things we love about it. But mainly, it's the flavour that we're obsessed with. This beautiful blend of herbs, sesame seeds and sumac is incredible sprinkled on top of so many dishes. It adds an extra twist of flavour and colour to even the simplest of meals - perfect for when you don't have much time. Try it on hummus, salad, soup, roasted vegetables or with olive oil as a dressing... there are endless possibilities for this tasty tradition! 

How to make Za'atar spice mix

Confusingly, Za'atar is also the name of a wild herb found in the Middle East, with a flavour somewhat similar to thyme. This is just a recipe for the spice mix, and doesn't require you to buy the wild herb!

If you aren't familiar with sumac, then we really recommend buying some. This ruby-red spice comes from a type of berry that grows in the mediterranean and middle east. It has a tangy, lemony flavour that tastes amazing and really enhances the za'atar mix. 

Ingredients
6 teaspoons of sesame seeds
4 teaspoons of sumac
4 teaspoons of oregano*
4 teaspoons of thyme*
a pinch of sea salt
*It's possible to use dried or fresh herbs, however you may find the mix lasts slightly longer using dried. 

Method
1. In a small pan, toast the sesame seeds until golden. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. 
2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. We like our za'atar to have more texture, so we just mix it together with a spoon...If you want a finer powder, feel free to grind the ingredients together using a pestle & mortar/processor. 
3. Once combined, place your mix in a jar and it's now ready to use! Store in a cool place and enjoy on your meals.